Samstag, 21. Februar 2009

Stratford Day 4 Part 2 or: It's Calvin Klein!

I am kinda tempted to post that 'Back to the future'-icon again, but no, I'll resist the temptation. So, blogging about Hamlet has been like an albatross around my neck, and I hope I'll get it finished finally. (Argh, dammit I just thought I wanted to tick off some of the stuff on my To-Do-List, but that is in the Forum. Gosh.) My memory is not as full of details anymore, so maybe I'll get this finished in under three hours that way because I'll have to rely just on my notes. BTW, the joke we were laughing about at the pub: I think it was the 'feces'-thing from Love's Labour's Lost. At least my blognotes book has the quote in the appropriate place.

Anyways Hamlet. We came to the theatre a little earlier this time and decided to take our things inside the auditorium, so we could get out quickly at the end of the play and go to the stage door to maybe catch David Tennant signing autographs. So, we went and bought programs and I think this time we actually made it not just past the gift shop but into it. They had lovely posters there, but you know, how do you get a poster safely back home if you're flying? We took our seats three rows away from the stage (HA! Let me repeat the HA!) and waited for the play to start. And I realized that there was a whole class of schoolkids sitting right behind us. Now, I work at a theatre and schoolkids are hell, to say it plainly. Not all of them, granted, but at least half of them are just annoying. So in a way I was bracing myself.

There is this slight problem that I have with Hamlet: I've had a class about the play. For sixteen weeks I read and discussed theory about the play, analysed the play, and sucked up every bit of knowledge that was offered me there. And I've written a paper about one of the film adaptations. (And now I'll go even further and discuss the play again in Portugal. My, this is following me around.) So, I know so much about the play that it was really hard for me to just lean back and enjoy it. In my head I was ticking off the scenes and noticing the choices that had been made, and that made it really difficult just to enjoy everything. Doesn't mean I had a bad time, just means it was a little difficult. But the upside of it is: because I knew the play I have boatloads of details on it. But my abiding memory of it is probably the thirst that we had afterwards. The air was so absolutely dry there, we were still drinking water like mad for three day afterwards. But it was necessary for the first scene already to have all that fog there. The scene on the battlements was very eerie only lit with flashlights which the actors pointed at the reflecting ground to light each others faces. Really cool.

The next scene had the first entrace of Hamlet while Claudius is holding his speech to his court. Hamlet is not addressed until the later part of the scene, until then he stood (right across from where we were sitting) and just watched, wearing his black suit. The thing is, you need to pay attention to what Hamlet is doing here, how he reacts. Here he was full of grief, not looking at Claudius or his mother, not even when they finally spoke to him. The first soliloquy was also this display of absolute grief.

I have somehow cut the meeting with the ghost and my notes pick up with the next scene and the costume change: jeans, t-shirt (with this muscle print on it. Hamlet clothes reflect how he feels and here he tries to be strong.) and I think bare feet. He was walking around without shoes for the most part of that act, and I have no idea what it is about bare feet that makes them so attractive but I was slightly distracted. And then at some point Hamlet threw himself on the ground and we saw ... underwear. Calvin Klein. How on earth are you supposed to pay attention with this amount of distraction? I would give a lot for a picture of the four of us realizing that we were seeing underwear. The look on our faces must have been priceless. And I was not even daring to think what the school kids behind us were thinking. But to my surprise there was not one single sound from them.

Anyways, the antic disposition was really funny again, and somehow linked to the dream that El had the night before the trip. Remember the giant squid playing bass? Well, this Hamlet somehow managed to resemble a 10-armed squid. What I always love about the nunnery sequence is the moment when Hamlet realizes that Ophelia knows that Claudius and Polonius are spying on them. Here they left one of the mirrors at the back of the stage ajar, Hamlet sees that and walks through. (The mirror thing is also in Branagh's Hamlet. Not a coincidence I think.)
Then come the players and Hamlet as amateur player trying to perform something: 'Ahhhh... ahhhh... what was it...' Very cute. During the play Hamlet was seated opposite the king, and interfered heavily with the performance, urging them on. And bawdy comes not even close to what the dumb show was. I loved the over-the-top Elizabethan costumes. The prayer scene provided the cliffhanger for the break, with Hamlet standing behind Claudius with a knife poised to kill.

During the intermission we went and bought: posters! I bought the one from Love's Labour's Lost, because I liked it better. I didn't want to put Emo!Hamlet up in my room, not even if he looked like David Tennant. The play went on and of course he didn't kill Claudius (yet). The closet scene followed, luckily without innuendo between Hamlet and his mum, but it was rather violent. Polonius got shot standing behind the mirror again, and one of the coolest things was that the mirror shattered when shot through. Hamlet sobered up a little after shooting, and then came the scene where he is taken to the king. This Hamlet was tied to an office chair with wheels and was pushed around from one corner to the other giving a loud "Whooooooooooooooo!" We changed it pretty fast into "Wheeeeeeee!" The seen also contained a Doctor Who allusion because at some point David said 'I don't know' almost the same way he said it in The Christmas Invasion.

Then followed the graveyard scene and the first fight with Laertes. By now Hamlet had changed into a modern travel outfit. (Another thing about the outfit: Hamlet is more modern in an ancient world. Oldest was Old Hamlet in his armour.) Then followed already the final scene, the duell with Laertes with some amazing sword fighting (especially compared to the stuff that I have seen on stage at our theatres). Hamlet gets cut in the neck which I found pretty cool. He makes Claudius drink the poisoned cup (at least he does not throw a chandelier on him :ugly:) and then dies in Horatio's arms. Fortinbras' army then arrives, but Horatio's words are the last spoken which is also something that I really liked very much.

Applause and standing ovations followed and now you noticed schoolkids were sitting behind us because they were absolutely loud. It was like a storm breaking loose. So we went out to see if David Tennant was signing autographs and there were already masses of people at the stage door. That stuff is absolute madness, and I'd never want to be centre of that kind of attention, I can tell you. But I never will be anyways. Well, I overheard a lady from the theatre saying that David had to go to London for something and had already left the building. We waited a little longer I think and then went back to the bed and breakfast. After another meeting in El's and Kristina's room and going over the day again we went to bed. I think we didn't even see any funny TV programmes that night.

I do have a number of rather memory fragments such as Hamlet wearing his crown, him and Horatio playing Three Grey Mice on flutes, and Hamlet reflecting light into the audience holding a mirror and moving it up and down. (He blinded me. Ouch.) That must be all around the play in the play, and the Three Grey mice thing was to mock Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, I think. But I can't really remember when he used that mirror and what he said while he moved it around the audience. It could be talking about confronting Gertrude because he says later he will hold a mirror up to her face. What I also really liked was the way Hamlet said 'Words. Words! WORDS!' to Polonius in this completely unnerved and annoyed way. Ophelia's madness was also slightly funny for me because I was looking at something completely different and looked back at Ophelia who was suddenly standing on stage only in her underwear. And my notes also say:

~ Hamlet feeling Rosencrantz up (Oh yeah! I remember that. Tehe.)
~ Barefoot!
~ when he lifted his arms you could see his stomach!

And yes, I do know my fangirling interrupted my focusing on the play. But then, when else should I do it, hmmm? I also just realized that all my Tennant-Shakespeare-Icons were lost in the computer crash. Dang.

So. Hey, I made it in under three hours. Wheee! Let's get to the last entry! And see what the forum's doing.